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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Pirate CD sales hit record high
Spain, Taiwan and Pakistan are seen as problem countries
The number of pirated CDs has shot up to 1.1bn discs worldwide a year, but the growth in the illegal trade is slowing, according to a report.

The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) reports the pirate music trade is now worth $4.5bn (2.4bn) each year.

Spain has been singled out as one of the 10 worst offending countries, with the IFPI demanding government action.

It is estimated 35% of all CDs sold in the world are pirate copies.

The ratio of illegal to legal sales has increased from one in five in 2000 to one in three in 2003.

But the growth of pirate CDs rose 4% in 2003, compared with 14% the previous year.

The IFPI sees the slowdown as a positive indication of its fight against illegal CDs sales as a record 53 million discs were seized last year, up 13 million compared to the previous year.

It is also seized six times more "CD stampers" - the machines used to press illegal discs - with the 2003 total up to 12,021.

Organised crime

The 10 countries the IFPI wants to target also include Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Taiwan and Ukraine.

Poland has been removed from the priority list while Pakistan features on it for the first time.

The IFPI's head of enforcement, Alain Grant, said the organisation had discovered eight CD factories operating in the country, with their CDs being found as far away as New York.

"One eighth of the production of one of these plants is enough to satisfy local demand," Mr Grant said.

Music CDs
Legitimate CD sales are being hit by pirated copies

China tops the league of pirate sales, followed by Russia.

The estimated value of China's pirate market is $591m (320m), while Russia's is $332m (180m). Russia has at least 21 CD plants manufacturing pirate music CDs, Mr Grant said.

"Commercial music piracy dominates large swathes of the world's music markets, despite an encouraging slowdown in growth in 2003," said IFPI chairman Jay Berman.

"This illegal trade is funding organised crime, fuelling widespread corruption and costing governments hundreds of millions of dollars in lost taxes."

He added: "The responsibility is now on governments - and especially in the 10 priority countries - to act decisively against the problem.

"This means proper enforcement, deterrent sentences against pirates, effective regulation of disc manufacturing and, above all, the political will to make sure real change happens."

Interpol fund

Alain Levy, the chairman of EMI Worldwide, said the effects of piracy were keenly felt by local artists, who were more likely to be affected by dwindling investment in new music.

Mr Grant said the IFPI was fighting the pirates with equipment that could make "forensic matches" linking CDs to certain plants.

The IFPI had also been one of the first organisations to help fund Interpol's Fighting Fund to tackle intellectual property theft.

Mr Berman said the piracy problem "would never completely disappear" but the IFPI were trying to limit it as much as possible.

In January next year the IFPI would also be addressing the ongoing problems with illegal file-sharing with a report on the effects of internet piracy.

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